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Cruz removed from West Philadelphia

By Paul Socolar on Jul 2, 2010 09:38 AM

Saliyah Cruz, principal of West Philadelphia High School for the last three years, is being transferred, District spokesperson Evelyn Sample-Oates confirmed this morning.

Taking over at West will be District veteran Ozzie Wright, who has filled in twice previously as principal there, most recently before Cruz was assigned in 2007. Wright has been serving in an interim role at South Philadelphia High School.

Sample-Oates said that Superintendent Ackerman had made the decision that  Wright, a West Philly alum, "is the right person to change the school around and improve test scores."

A District press release issued at noon announcing the appointment of Wright doesn't mention Cruz but cites continued low proficiency rates on the 2010  PSSA.

Superintendent Ackerman is quoted as saying, "deep change is needed in the teaching and learning processes at the school. I make this appointment with a sense of urgency, but also with the confidence that Mr. Wright can lead the staff and students to improved academic performance.”

Cruz has been assigned to serve as principal of Communications Tech High School.

As recently as early June, after deciding that the abortive Renaissance process at West would be postponed for a year, District officials said that Cruz and her administrative staff would return to West next fall, but would be supported by a team from the District.

Asked about the reversal, Sample-Oates said, "The superintendent made this decision for West Philadelphia - for all those students and parents at the school."

The decision to transfer Cruz elicited both surprise and criticism from teachers at the school, who had expected her to be back in the fall.

"It's another devastating blow to West," said history teacher Laura Boyce, who said she had rescinded her plans to take a position at Bodine High School next fall, thinking that Cruz would be back again at West.

"She was one of the major reasons that a lot of us stayed at West ourselves," she explained. "We talked about 10 to 15 people into staying  who had been planning on leaving."

"I saw her as a great leader - somebody who really inspired us and was open to any idea that would make the school better," Boyce added.

Cruz had been credited with a dramatic turnaround in school climate and had been the subject of several positive profiles over the past school year reporting on improvements at West. Nonetheless, the school ended up on the Renaissance Schools list because of poor student achievement results.

Cruz was popular with students, Boyce said. Most staff also supported her, she added.

Neil Geyette, coordinator of West’s Urban Leadership Academy, said he was troubled by "the expedited nature in which the District expects turnaround" in school performance.

"For sustained school improvement, there needs to be stability of leadership in the school. There needs to be stability of staff in the school. They need to have time to implement their plans," he said.

Still on the Renaissance School list, West will be undergoing more changes in the next school year, including a matching process with a turnaround team once again.

That raised another question for Geyette: "Why would you change the leadership of the school a year before you're going to make another radical change?" he asked.

The reassignments of Cruz and Wright are effective immediately.

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Comments (60)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 10:11 am

Wow - another good principal slashed by Ackerman. Maybe Ms. Cruz received too much good publicity for West... Mr. Wright may be a nice guy but has he done anything to improve "academic achievement" at any school? West doesn't need "military control" - Cruz was providing leadership - and getting credit for it - which took attention away from Ackerman. Once again, Ackerman (Blackwell and Co.) put the screws on West.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2010 3:27 pm

i guess there is nothing about jealousy but only about money...if students and parents discover that west hs is better than charter schools around it then charters would lose their students and cash flowing into their pockets...she does everything to convert public schools into charters....let's make public education suck and scream about success in charter schools...she and people who own charters make great money from our taxes...nice job on fooling us.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 11:58 am

Once again, Ackerman proves that she has NO, NONE, NADA, interest in the kids or improving education. All she cares about is rewarding her croonies with jobs and rich financial contracts. Rendell, Nutter and Williams, Shame on you for allowing this farce to continue! How much is going into YOUR pockets. The State needs to investigate the Ackerman administration from Rendell, Nutter, Williams and Archie on down. Come on people--demand it! It's our kids that are being "played" with for adults profits, power and ego!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 12:01 pm

I'm speechless. Ms. Cruz was doing incredible work there. That school was her life.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 12:35 pm

This is stunning. As a former teacher at West, Ms. Cruz was by far the most committed, honest, intelligent, transparent, thoughtful, dedicated person I encountered in the entire district. I'm speechless.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 12:15 pm

Here is an Arlene Ackerman themed political cartoon:

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 12:50 pm

So much for stability of leadership!

Submitted by WPHS Teacher (not verified) on July 2, 2010 1:11 pm

The press release said Ozzie is being brought in because of his "track record of stabilizing and improving the environments in District high schools." But West is not South Philly High - the environment already was stable. Cruz's track record can stand up to anyone's on that front: 70% reduction in serious incidents, off the persistently dangerous list.

This has been the most demoralizing process I've ever been through. Many of us agreed to stay on next year, despite knowing things were going to be bad and that we were going to have significant staff turnover, because we were promised we would have Cruz back. Many of us turned down job offers at "better" schools because we were committed to the community at West and our leader there. I had seriously thought that at this point Ackerman had an interest (albeit political) to help West Philly improve this year, but it seems like she really wants to completely demoralize everyone who ever tried to play an active role in its future and then take over herself or turn it over to Mastery in a year.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 1:19 pm

Wow....The need to line one's pocket is paramount, even in the case of fixing something again that wasn't broke...Unbelievable...Who the hell is Arlene Ackerman?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 2:56 pm

This is SO INCREDIBLY SHADY that I am at a loss for words. And yet, this is what I have come to expect from my employer. There has to be more to this story than what is being let on.

To all the teachers at West, please know that you have my utmost sympathy and that although I am not one of you, I share your outrage and frustration.

This is just insane.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on July 2, 2010 3:44 pm

Everything I ever heard about Ms. Cruz from REAL educators was positive. She had really been turning around West. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about education and large schools like West (this apparently DOES NOT include Arlene) knows that real, true turnaround takes time. Climate comes first, and Cruz and her staff had accomplished that--the learning gains would have followed. It is a tragedy for West that their leader has been taken away--I hope climate will not suffer because of it. Arlene and her minions have made sure that West was royally worked over this year. She really is a disgrace!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 3:19 pm

She is ruining our district. one school at a time...looking forward to 2014, anyone?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 4:18 pm

Only problem is in 2014 will she be given a contract extension??? All of the nonsense she has created needs to be brought to the right peoples attention so she does not get an extension. PFT (Jerry Jordan)are you out there listening???

Also, Jordan had better put his foot down when this current contract expires. It's time the PFT go all out and do what is necessary to create positive public opinion and start protests to get the attention of elected officials.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 8:24 pm

This obsession you have with Jerry Jordan is getting REAL old--get a life or a girl already, will ya?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 6:45 pm

You could be a little more professional.

You obviously are a supporter of his by the tone in your blog. I think you seem rather tense or emotional by telling someone you don't know to get a life----is that being civilized.


Are you a Philadelphia teacher??? Read the new contract before you try talk about something you know nothing of. Have a nice day---and take a valium already....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 11:43 pm

Aye, Aye, Ahab. You just keep chasing that whale. Sad, really, sad

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 11:08 am

This website is supposed to be used to encourage engagement amongst different opinions and blog about it.

Your comments are unprofessional and you never answered my questions to you in my previous post.

If you read the outline of what the Public School Notebook is all about, it specifically states that they reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of the rule of blogging harrasing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

In other words, I will contact the Public School Notebook and ask that you be removed from blogging on this website. I understand that people have various opinions, but the site is for commenting on topics not childish personal attacks. Please get control of yourself---Thank You.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 4:12 pm

"Defamatory?" "Harrasing?" wonder how Jordan's lawyers would feel about certain posts and blogs? I agree, wholeheartidly, this blog is designed to be a place to encourage a PRODUCTIVE exchange of ideas on, and a conversation about, educational issues and policies that affect our children, and not for someone's continuing "childish" personal rants and raves about "Jerry", "Jerry", "Jerry!"

I am a proud teacher in Philadelphia and a proud member of the PFT. I look forward to the next PFT elections and in seeing if certain people will stop hiding behind the "anonymous" lable and actually put thier money where their mouth is and run against Jordan. OR if they will continue to just stand in the shadows yelling "Jerry", "Jerry", "Jerry" while continuing to ignore the real educational policies and issues that are affecting our kids. Ms. Ackerman must be so proud!

Now back to the real purpose of this site. . .

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 6:47 pm

They would have to be "Jerry's lawyers" wouldn't they? Ever try to get any help from a PFT lawyers? Just because you pay for those lawyers with your PFT deductions that doesn't mean they are going to do anything for you? You don't even exist. They are just for bailing out the PFT elite.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 6:34 pm

Actually, if you read many of the blogs on this site, there are plenty of negative things said about Jerry Jordan. He is in fact, one of the main players involved other than Ackerman and the SRC.

He and the PFT Attorneys are vital in 1. trying to prove that ACT 46 is unconstitutional, 2. finding ways to rid the District of Ackerman (who is not helping matters in Philly), and 3. getting a contract that is decent for its teachers. If all is done things will surely be better for our children.

We are also looking at 1,100 teachers trying to plug 600 teaching positions in this District. Jordan specifically stated, "Had I known that there was going to be 14 Charter Schools instead of the 5 it was supposed to be, I wouldn't have supported this contract". Hello, he took Ackermans word and it came back to bite him. Anyone knows that when you negotiate, you put it in writing not by taking someones word. The end result now is talk of teacher layoffs which he also promised would not happen and I really can't see how it can be avoided. Were you there at the ratification vote for the contract??? That was pushed and I mean really pushed through so fast and teachers didn't even have time to see all of the issues and make a real sound vote. The INDEPENDENT TEAM will have a High School teacher from George Washington H.S. run as President against him.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 10:43 pm

Why were teachers only given one hour and a half to read contract that was delayed for one year and half longer than it should have taken? Jordan knew it stunk to high heaven and pushed it on his members. Why should any school be Renaisssanced until it can be proven that school received all the district was entitled to give them in terms of support. As we know shortages are taking place all through the district: no children being tested for the joke support program known as CSAP (aka CRAP); lack of daily ESL instruction as prescribed by law; safe environments (made harder by the removal of climate officers and the failure of the state to punish lying administrators who downplay violence in our schools); lack of supplies such a text books, etc.

We're all tired of hearing how angry Jerry Jordan is with what Ackerman is doing to the school district. We pay our dues for action and the time is now, Jerry. You will be out of a job next election if you don't get off your butt and do something major to show the 440 posse who does the heavy work. It's time for a show of strength from Philadelphia teachers against this state sponsored clownshow Fast Eddie and Queen Arlene they can pass off as school reform.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2010 12:44 pm

Thank you! I absolutely agree with your statements and was actually trying to tell the other anonymous the same thing but started being accused as a Jerry Jordan whiner, when in fact, he had a lot to do with the worst contract received by Philly teachers! He really does need to step it up!!

Submitted by Frank Murphy on July 2, 2010 4:00 pm

 West Philadelphia High School has become an inconvenient truth to the turn-around school reformers that are driving the Renaissance School Agenda in Philadelphia.  As such it became necessary for the Ackerman administration to take a corrective action that would bring to a halt this off script grassroots example of an authentic and substantial reform effort.  The great strides that have been made in the last three years at West is proof that the School District of Philadelphia has the capacity to effect meaningful reform in a large comprehensive high school. 

 Under the leadership of an effective principal, smart and energetic teachers have been able to make substantial progress turning around this long troubled school.

What was their strategy?  They created a respectful and caring school community.  They focused their efforts on creating and implementing effective instructional strategies.   The resources available to the school were utilized to further instructional goals.  As a result of these efforts students, teachers, parents, and community partners began to work as one team.  A team that was committed to making a real difference in improving the quality of the instructional opportunities that were offered to the students served by this school.

 What rewards has this vibrant school community received as a result of these heroic efforts?

•Their School was offered up for privatization.

• Their teachers were totally demoralized.

•The credibility of their parents was put in question.

•The integrity of their community partners was tarnished.

•Their leader has been eliminated.


Now State Senator Anthony Williams is going to come to the rescue of the West Philadelphia High School Community! 

This is a shameful, shameful situation.




Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on July 2, 2010 5:51 pm

So true, Frank. This is really one of the most disheartening things that has happened in a year of very disheartening things. I wonder where all this will lead? Do your job well, be a real leader, and get removed. Let a bunch of kids get beat up, and you get paid for doing nothing for several months!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2010 4:07 pm

Is anyone looking at the math scores from the most recent pssa scores at West? They were better when the school was having fires every day. I'm sorry it was time to make a change.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 8:58 pm

Amen, Frank. I guess all that good press about the automotive team coming in 2nd nationally was more good press (for other people) than the "Queen" could stand

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on July 2, 2010 10:41 pm

Sadly, this is typical of our current leadership. "What? You mean the teachers were rigth? Shut them down, put them and and shut them up. That has been the answer too often... " There is no respect offered for the hard work of caring, loving and dedicated parents, staff and community supporters. Why would those that know the children know what to do to improve things? That would make too much sense.

Submitted by Betsy Wice (not verified) on July 2, 2010 5:52 pm

New depths for our School District. How do we stop this tank mowing down our students, our teachers, our educational communities?

Submitted by Ms. Chips (not verified) on July 2, 2010 7:41 pm

NOW is the time for protests. Teachers, parents, kids, community: DEMAND dialogue & explanation, perhaps even rationale for this change, cavalierly announced on a Friday, on a holiday weekend to boot.

And, there are a couple of other issues here. Mr. Wright is an able, amiable leader, but I believe he is retired. According to state law, he can only work for the schools IF there is a demonstrated emergency personnel problem, which for principals in the SDP does not exist. Besides that there was an effective principal in place, there are many current district personnel who have principal's certificates, so if this is an emergency appointment for Mr. Wright, it is illegal.

For Ms. Cruz, this is a double dope slap. She has been demoted, since CTHS is a SMALL (fewer than 500 kids) high school, which also had an effective leader, Barbara McCreery. Under her leadership, CTHS made AYP this year, with a huge performance increase, and she too is rewarded with removal from a school she has nurtured & developed.

Queen Arlene, what gives?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 28, 2010 11:26 am

Barbara McCreary was far from effective leader. CTHS has those #'s DESPITE of her. She was already being replaced when they named Cruz.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 8:06 pm

It is also worth noting that Mr. Wright is part of the West Alumni Association which, on the eve of the first SAC vote, wrote a letter to Ackerman denouncing Johns Hopkins as a provider and asking that West become a Promise Academy. So, it looks to me that SDP installed Wright to convince the West Community to vote Promise next year. Conflict of interest? Incidently, Principal Cruz was asked repeatedly to advocate for a Promise Academy, and she repeatedly asked to see an ACADEMIC plan, something no one has ever seen, to my knowledge. Ackerman's insistence that the Core Curriculum would be used does not suggest any Renaissance to me. Additionally, I have never seen any data to support that the strict adherence to the Core Curriculum increases test scores. The English Curriculum is a perfect example. The PSSA is a READING test, not an ENGLISH LITERATURE test.

If Ackerman wants West a a Promise Academy, that's her prerogative. However, don't hide behind community involvement. Just make the school a Promise Academy NOW so the students, teachers can get back to focusing on their own learning, and stop having to teach the District what fair process and true community involvement looks like.

Just sayin'.

Submitted by Angela Chan on July 2, 2010 8:38 pm

We need to be witnesses to the excellent work of all our colleagues and stand together with school communities when their efforts are blatantly discredited. This is not just a West Philly High issue. Please publicize if there are any efforts for action.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2010 10:49 pm

The district would have us believe that West is just an isolated incident, but you suggest this is a district wide issue. I am certainly not as informed as I should be. Do you mind elaborating so I can stand with you? West is certainly only the most visible case of the dismissing of teachers.

Submitted by Betsy Wice (not verified) on July 3, 2010 7:30 am

Meade School is another example of a school and school staff targeted for their independence. (See the blog and comments of Frank Murphy ("f").)
Frederick Douglass School is an another example of the Renaissance process gone awry, with the School District overruling the School Advisory Council's choice while pretending it was what the parents asked for.
I suspect there are many more examples throughout the School District, places where arbitrary and destructive decisions have been made in the name of "school reform." I hope we'll hear about those on this website and eventually in the wider world of mainstream media.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on July 3, 2010 6:37 pm

I feel you are right. Meade has been targetted because the staf had the power to do well by their children and parents. Now, they are being punished for questioning the plan from Ms. Ackerman. The growth form years of work is beginning to show and sadly the momentum will be lost. Our children deserve better.

Submitted by Angela Chan on July 3, 2010 11:17 am

“This is not just a West Philly High issue” in the sense that it has wider implications beyond WPHS. The case of West sends a clear message to all schools. WPHS created a curriculum that gives kids the skills they need to change their community. Students were empowered by their learning. The actions of the administration imply that this type of learning has no place in “low-performing” schools all in the name of PSSA scores. This sets a tone for all schools in the District. It strengthens the message to increase scores at all costs, even to the point of sacrificing opportunities to help students develop into civically engaged, passionate, thinking citizens. As a teacher, I’m concerned about what this tone does to my own teaching, especially when there is a pattern of similar actions.

Betsy above cited Meade., At West and Meade we see models of change and growth that draw on the strength of staff, students, and the community. We learn about their culture of respect and care and curricula that engage the whole child. These are models of change that happened without solely relying on top down mandates under the administration’s “theory of action” to bring about reform.

By acknowledging and being witnesses to the achievements at West and Meade and seeking out other stories that have not been as well publicized, we can all do our part in changing that tone and redefining what it takes to bring about meaningful change in schools and, ultimately, in the lives of youth in this city. That is why this is not an issue just for the West Philly High community.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 6:24 am

Anyone who does there job well, gains buy in from their faculty, students, and parents, is a threat to a Dr. Ackerman. Unlike Cruz, most principals are no threat to Ackerman. They only threaten the ability of children to become inquisitive, engaged learners.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 7:52 am

Oh My God! The audacity of "that woman"! Ackerman is quoted in today's Daily News as saying that Cruz was removed because the PSSA scores at West hadn't improved enough--so what does Ackerman do? Move Cruz to ANOTHER PRINCIPALSHIP Position at another High School! If Cruz didn't do the job, academically, at West, why in God's name do you put her in charge of another High School? If she did do the job at West, why move her?? Ackwerman is playing everyone as suckers so she can place her croonies, brown nosers, and "yes" people into leadership positions and/or award them financial contracts of tax payer money. SOMEONE INVESTIGATE AND REMOVE THIS WOMAN NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where is the best interest of the kids in ANYTHING this woman has done in 2 years?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 8:44 am

Another article stated West's reading PSSA scores went from 11 to 16% - that is a significant increase. The math scores went down. Ackerman is using scores as an excuse to put her people in charge so she (and Blackwell, Archie, etc.) get what they want - a so-called "Promise Academy." Wright has no experience improving academics. I'd be leery of next year's PSSA scores - it is easy to cheat and make "dramatic" progress.

Submitted by Love teaching (not verified) on July 3, 2010 8:10 am

I feel like I'm in the book ANIMAL FARM. Seriously. I think of communist bloc USSR. It seems that we have NO power or say in anything. Jerry Jordan is a total wimp.
Curious - did Rendall appoint Ackerman? Who appointed the SRC? Is there any way to have the law repealed that has the SRC in place? Everyone is outraged but nothing changes. Ackerman's whims and power plays and apathy re: the education of our children are transparent to everyone with half a brain.
What can be done?
What can be done?
I'll do it, if it can be done.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on July 3, 2010 6:06 pm

The SRC is appointed. 3 by the govenor and 2 by the mayor. That is the system - notice how much teaching and/or educational experience there is on this team.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 8:39 am

I wish the Alumni Association would put as much time into getting successful alumni to come volunteer at the school, to tutor students, to run afterschool clubs, to mentor parents, as they do to trying to increase their access to the principal.
If I ever saw them doing work in the school, I would be more inclined to respect their opinion of who should run the school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 10:21 am

This kind of thing is happening ALL OVER the district. I know of many schools that are dealing with this same thing but on a smaller scale and away from public scrutiny like the West situation. Look at the K-8 schools. Some very successful schools are being hammered and harassed because of their strong, successful staffs. I have heard the term "entrenched" several times in describing "staff" from administration. There is this fallacy being put out there that "veterans" are a problem. The tactic seems to harass, bully and eventually break, so these veterans retire, or give up and move to a new school. The tactics being used cross racial and ethical lines. Whatever the horrible administrator thinks they have to do to cause chaos among staff, they do it. Telling staff members NOT to be friends with other staff members or they will face "consequences." Several colleagues have described this happening at several Elementary and Middle schools. William Hunter School in Kennsington is a prime example of harassment, bullying and racism by administration. It's alive and well in Philadelphia and encouraged at the top.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 11:12 am

The alumni association absolutely disgusts me. They are full of uppity folks who have no connection to the current students at West and actually they have nothing but disdain for the students at West. Everything they say they are doing "for the students" is really for themselves. They have no idea what West actually needs because they are trying to remake West in the image of when they attended 30 years ago. That is not going to work now and they are completely out of touch. There is a disgusting collusion going on now between Bob Archie, Arlene Ackerman, Jannie Blackwell, Paula McKinney Rainey, Norman Brown, Vernard Johnson, Marsha Brown, and soon Ozzie Wright. And make no mistake - it's not about "the children", it's about control and power, who gets access and who gets contracts. And none of those people are parents of West students.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 12:47 pm

They also want control over a brand new building in a very lucrative neighborhood. Look at the housing prices in the neighborhoods south of West... As you wrote, it's about power and control - not 21st century students.

Submitted by nikki123 on July 3, 2010 12:01 pm

I'm not at all surprised. The school district had a plan to unload West and they got blindsided by an unforeseen event: a cohesive group of dedicated parents, students, talented admin and staff. Ackerman's people have since systematically undermined most of what made West a real turnaround story. I realize that scores are low but that's what you get when students come in to high school many years below grade level.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 12:24 pm

Something isn't right here - how can an employed principal be replaced by a retired principal without violating some kind of employment rule? Ackerman should have left Cruz alone, at least for this coming year.

Submitted by lovetoteach (not verified) on July 7, 2010 9:20 am

She couldn't leave her alone and risk another uprising next school year. Ackerman believes that Cruz spearheaded a campaign against her and her ridiculous promise academies when the fact is it was the staff, students and community who took the reigns and tried desperately to do what was right for West. Ms. Cruz had no choice but to support the rest of the school community. I am sure that Ackerman thinks that with her gone, the noise will die down at West; I don't think she knows what she's up against.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 2:23 pm

Cruz was a large part of the reason I decided to teach at West next year.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 10:59 pm

Remember that when these PSSA scores are brought up as justification for all this, the PSSA was given AFTER West was named a Renaissance school. Our students were told that despite all their hard work to turn around this school, that it was still a failing school. When students found out that Renaissance might mean that many of their teachers wouldn't be back and when they realized all of their hard work wasn't good enough according to Ackerman, they had little reason to stay motivated on the PSSA test. If you already were told you were failing, to many of our students, there was no point in trying.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on July 3, 2010 10:22 pm

Very good point. We, as teachers, would like to think that our students can become self-motivated to do well on tests like the PSSA, but this is not always the case. It must have been very demoralizing fro the kids to effectively be told "all your work and progress mean nothing". Also, weren't the juniors who took PSSAs the same kids who were freshmen during the year of the fires?? That interrupted their learning for sure. It is very hard to judge PSSAs in high school since the students only take them once in a 4 year high school career. It is easier to judge individual student progress when you can see yearly results. I am really very sad about what has happened to West, and I think they have really been done wrong.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2010 10:13 pm

You've got to hand it to Ackerman for achieving a new level of deviousness. If the argument against making West a Renaissance school is that the current leadership is doing a good job; you simply change the leadership. Ozzie Wright is going to be a caretaker principal whose main charge from Ackerman will be to maintain the status quo and make the transition to Promise Academy easier. There will be no increase in test scores this year; low test scores make it easier for Ackerman to do what she wants. I think the timing of the announcement was interesting also. By doing it on a Friday before a hot three-day weekend, she's hoping people's outrage will peter out by the time school is back in session on Tuesday. I'd love to come to work on Tuesday and see some sort of protest against this despicable act, even though we know it will do no good since Ackerman doesn't care what the community actually wants.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2010 3:26 am

My one regret as a teacher at West in all of this is that we didn't go to the SRC meeting and hold a huge protest when we were originally put on the list. Many teachers trusted that the process would be fair. Hopefully, what has happened at West will ensure that teachers, students, and parents at other schools who may come under Ackerman's "renaissance initiative" next year, will fight even harder for their school than we have this year.

Submitted by Christina Puntel (not verified) on July 5, 2010 2:16 pm

I honestly wish going to the SRC could have made a difference for WPHS. After witnessing an SRC meeting this year, I was astounded at the SRC's lack of understanding about education and schools. It was like they were all up there at the table with BLANK stares, no CLUE about what any of this was about. One member asked follow up questions like he wanted to know more about some serious issues but that was it. The SRC has no idea what any of this means. If someone thinks they do, I'm all ears...

Submitted by Anonymous teacher (not verified) on July 4, 2010 2:17 pm

I'm sorry for the teachers at West, especially those who decided to stay because of Cruz. Demoralization/destabilization seems to be a goal of the Ackerman administration -- it is happening to the school where I teach (the candidate we chose to be our principal in a site selection process last summer was replaced by one of Ackerman's choosing.) The only hope I have is that this (administration) too shall pass...

Submitted by Philly HS Teacher (not verified) on July 5, 2010 11:45 am

Many comments have focused on the betray by the Ackerman Administration, and I'd add the SRC, of the West Philadelphia HS community. Ackerman's (and Blackwell, Archie, Ossie Wright, West Alumni, etc.) are also slapping the face of professionalism. Removing Ms. Cruz is the latest "slap" - which is now a "knock down" - of West Philly HS. From the declaration of a "Renaissance" school, to undermining the parent committee, to last minute requirement that all West teachers determine where they would be next year in less than 24 hours, etc. Now, on a holiday weekend, after new hires are in place, etc., Ms. Cruz is removed and a "retired" military man is assigned to West. Mr. Wright has NO experience improving academics at a school. Why is a RETIRED principal heading a school when there are certified principals available?

If Ackerman, the SRC, and Blackwell, etc. had any respect for the professionalism of teachers / administers and the input of parents, they would have encouraged Ms. Cruz and the changes that had occurred during her short, 3 year term at West. (Most of the feeder schools to West have also not made AYP - that has an impact on West's scores.) A school team needs more than 3 years. Ackerman has no intention of allowing a group of professionals to work together. Instead, Ackerman, Blackwell, Archie, etc. just see a "cash cow" in contracts for West.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2010 11:43 am

Can anyone explain why all of the Hispanics in the district seem to be getting demoted? Maybe I have missed some appointments, but there seems to be a trend of very few Hispanics getting big positions under Ackerman's REGIME. I have been with the district for over a decade and I know many of these names that have been getting demoted. I don't know Cruz personally, but am I wrong in assuming she is Hispanic? I have heard nothing but good things abut Ms. Cruz, but yet she is dumped off into a much smaller school. Why? Marylin Perez? Does anyone really believe she was shooting to be Principal at Edison? Should I even mention the name Heidi Ramirez? I'm not Hispanic, but even I am getting this feeling that Hispanics are being passed over for these top jobs. Feel free to prove me wrong, because I would love to be wrong.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2010 12:25 pm

Ms. Cruz is African American.

Submitted by Gloria (not verified) on June 5, 2014 3:07 am
What are you talking about? Cruz is not hispanic, he's african american! gloria
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2010 1:40 pm

This decision is really unbelievable. I actually agree with many of the big ideas Dr. Ackerman has -- even the Renaissance schools initiative, since, quite frankly, there are some schools that really need a fresh start and it's nearly impossible to turn around a school by just changing a couple of pieces (i.e. principal, etc.).

But removing Ms. Cruz is incredible. Here, in a District where nearly every comprehensive high school is basically dysfunctional and not very safe, you have a building with a dedicated and effective leader, and a staff clearly willing to go above and beyond to help students, which would seem to be exactly the environment that Dr. Ackerman would like to create. I'm sure Ms. Cruz wasn't perfect, but she's certainly more effective than many of the principals who are still in their buildings and the choice of Mr. Wright makes it quite obvious that this decision was not a genuine "we need a change in leadership" move. If academics are the issue, then why bring in a retired principal who specializes in bringing buildings under control? It is becoming very, very difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to Dr. Ackerman. I used to think the central administration was merely incompetent. Now I fear that it is actually very corrupt.

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